My Mideast Punchlines: holiday stress…

The rate of people filing for divorce within two weeks of the Passover holiday is three times as high as during the rest of the year, according to Ronit Sharon, manager of the Talia Center for Children and Parents and a lecturer at the Hebrew University.

She said that this statistic is true for the Beit Din rabbinical court and the secular divorce system, and is only equivalent around the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

The reason for this rise in divorces is the number of stresses that surface around the holidays, Sharon explained. For example, there could be a question of where a family will hold its Seder, sensitivity around relationships with extended family, too much to do and greater financial demands. “Don’t make impulsive decisions on ending a connection during the holidays. Persevere until afterwards and then look at the situation with a new perspective.”

biffI’m stressing out already. But you all know what the best advice is — yes, just let it all, er, pass over. Meanwhile, hag sameach (happy holiday) to everyone.


My Mideast Punchlines: odious Omar…

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions founder Omar Barghouti has expressed dismay and confusion over his entry into the United States being refused.

In an op-ed to the UK newspaper The Guardian, Barghouti claimed that “Israel appears to have once again enlisted the Trump administration to do its bidding.”

He claimed in the piece that with his “denial of entry, Israel appears to have once again enlisted the Trump administration to do its bidding, this time to repress Palestinian, Israeli and international human rights defenders,” he wrote. “They wish to deny lawmakers, journalists and ordinary Americans their right to listen first-hand to a Palestinian human rights advocate calling for ending US complicity in Israel’s crimes against our people.”

biffOdious Omar can easily overturn the ban and help his people — by becoming a Zionist! Let’s face it, Israel has done more for the Palestinians than a myriad of Arab countries, where they are despised, even hated. And just ask the thousands of Palestinians who work in Israel to provide for their families and, to boot, receive wages that far outstrip what they would receive in the territories. Basically, Barghouti and the useful idiots in the West who support him are far greater enemies of ordinary Palestinians than Israel.

My Mideast Punchlines: New Right, old wrong….

The New Right under Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked did not make it into the Knesset according to final results published by the Central Elections Committee on Thursday at midnight.

Earlier Thursday, a technical error on the Central Elections Committee’s website prevented publicly available numbers on the vote count from reflecting the real results of the election, sparking hours of confusion and a lack of clarity on whether the soldiers’ votes changed the final results on Thursday.

The New Right felt they had been wronged, and like some losing parties in the past they blamed voting irregularities.

biffI like Bennettt and Shaked. They did a pretty good job in their ministerial positions in the former government. But what made them more attractive to an old Anglo-Saxon like me was that the brilliant Jerusalem Post journalist Caroline Glick had joined their slate. In a prescient comment shortly before the election, she warned that a joint campaign by Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) against the New Right was “threatening to destroy us.” And so it turned out. However, the talented Caroline was down at number six on her party’s list, so she probably wouldn’t have made it into the Knesset anyway. More’s the pity.

My Mideast Punchlines: bubbly Bibi…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was poised to clinch a clear electoral victory Wednesday morning, with some 95 percent of votes showing his Likud party tied with Blue and White, but the right-wing bloc with a clear lead and Netanyahu possessing a clear path to forming a governing coalition.

With more than four million votes counted as of 8 a.m., Likud had snagged 26.27% of the vote, or 35 seats in the 120-seat legislature — the party’s best result since the 2003 election (when it won 38 seats under Ariel Sharon), and its best under Netanyahu.

biffSo when push comes to shove, the Israeli electorate prefers more of the same than taking a risk with the new Blue and White party of Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid. I would have voted for Bibi, not because of internal policies that has seen a steep rise in the par between rich and poor, but because he has proven he is a safe pair of hands when it comes to the nation’s security.

My Mideast Punchlines: peaky blunders…

A group of American and Israeli tourists were humiliated in an allegedly antisemitic incident at the Aqaba border crossing between Jordan and Israel on Tuesday.

The tourists were heading to Petra when they were forced to go through humiliating security checks at the border crossing. The border crossing officials confiscated the men’s kippot (religious skullcaps) and tzitzit (ritual fringes) and confiscated other Jewish religious items from the tourists, including bibles and prayer books. They even threatened the women saying they would have to undergo physical examinations.

The tourists were held for several hours until they were allowed to pass, although they were forbidden from bringing any Jewish religious items with them.

biffIt’s well known that Jordanians like watching English gangster serials on TV. So let’s allow them a couple of mistakes. They obviously thought the skullcaps might be a version of headgear from Peaky Blinders (the late nineteenth century Midlands gang who used the steel-reinforced peaks of their caps as weapons). And, of course, you wouldn’t allow any fringe elements to enter your country, would you now?

My Mideast Punchlines: grudge match…

DUBAI – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday defended the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as protectors of Iran a day after the United States labeled the group as a foreign terrorist organization.

“The Guards have sacrificed their lives to protect our people, our (1979 Islamic) revolution … today it’s America that holds a grudge against the Guards, blacklists the Guards,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on state TV. US President Donald Trump designated Iran’s Guards a foreign terrorist organization on Monday — an unprecedented step that will raise tensions in the Middle East.

biffA grudge? Some 251 grudges to be precise. That’s the number of Americans killed in 1983 when the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah—founded, armed, trained and funded by Iran’s RG group—conducted two suicide bombings in Lebanon: the April bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut killed 17 Americans and the October bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut killed
241 Americans. If Iran wants a grudge match with Trump, it will get one.

My Mideast Punchlines: mum’s the word…

Egypt has unveiled the 2,500-year-old mummy of a high priest at an ancient cemetery south of Cairo.

Egyptologist Zahi Hawass and an Egyptian team opened three sealed sarcophagi from the 26th Dynasty.

One contained the well-preserved mummy of a powerful priest, wrapped in linen and decorated with a golden figure depicting Isis, an ancient Egyptian goddess.

biffMum’s the word, but there is apparently no truth to the rumour that when they unwrapped the mummy it woke up and asked: “Is my haboob (mate) Bibi still prime minister of Israel?” While it does seem like Netanyahu has been premier for at least two millennia, we and the mummy should know for sure after tomorrow’s election, although the usual post-election coalition horse-trading could take weeks.

My Mideast Punchlines: tough titty…

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed on Saturday to extend Israeli sovereignty to the settlements of the West Bank if he is re-elected in Tuesday’s elections.

Flatly ruling out Palestinian statehood, which he said would “endanger our existence,” Netanyahu promised to permanently maintain overall Israeli security control in the West Bank and to formalize Israeli rule over the 400,000-plus Israeli Jews in the settlements. This would apply not only to major settlement blocs, but also to isolated settlements, he indicated.

biffAbsolutely nothing illegal about Bibi’s plan. In 1967, Israel told Jordan’s King Hussein to stay the hell out of the war instigated by Egypt and Syria. Instead, Hussein joined in the attack after heeding Nasser’s lies about how Egyptian forces had wiped out the Israeli army and were on their way to Tel Aviv. So the aggressive little monarch lost east Jerusalem and the West Bank. International law makes a crucial distinction between the seizure of territory in wars of aggression, which is illegal, and the seizure of territory by a state exercising its lawful right of self defence, which is not only legal but a moral imperative. And if you don’t like that argument, PA president Mahmoud Abbas, then tough titty.

My Mideast Punchlines: diet-croak…

Israel has the lowest rate of diet-related deaths worldwide, according to a major study published by researchers at the University of Washington.

The most in-depth study of its kind to date, published in the prestigious medical journal The Lancet, revealed that globally, one in five deaths (11 million deaths) in 2017 were associated with poor diet, with cardiovascular disease the largest contributor, followed by cancers and type 2 diabetes.

The countries with the lowest rates of diet-related deaths, however, were Israel (89 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by France, Spain, Japan and Andorra.

At the other end of the spectrum, Uzbekistan received the dubious distinction of the country with the highest rate of diet-related deaths (892 deaths per 100,000 people), followed by Afghanistan, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.

The United Kingdom ranked 23rd worldwide (127 deaths per 100,000 people), the United States was ranked 43rd (171 deaths per 100,000 people) and China was ranked 140th (350 deaths per 100,000 people).

biffNo surprise about Israel being number one, especially for those who know their humous from their Hamas. True, Israelis are renowned for their post-army service paunches, but unlike in the West, these are not beer bellies. Just think of what you eat humous with and you have guessed the answer. If you still don’t know, I pitta you. Oh, dear.

My Mideast Punchlines: food and drink….

Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails launched a hunger strike on Sunday morning to protest the installation of cellphone jamming technology in some prisons that has made it impossible to use smuggled cellphones in the wards.

A Prisons Service official said over the weekend that 14 separate incidents of illicit phone calls meant to instigate terror attacks were identified in recent months.

The leaders of the strike have threatened to escalate by refusing water if their demands for better incarceration conditions and the removal of the signal jamming systems are not met within seven days.

The strikers are led by a few of the most notorious terrorists Israel has ever put behind bars, according to a report in Channel 13. They include Arman Mahamed, who is serving 36 life sentences for the Cafe Moment suicide bombing in central Jerusalem on March 9, 2002, which killed 11 and wounded 54; Hassan Salame, who is serving 84 life sentences for the bus 18 bombings in Jerusalem in 1996; and Muammar Abu Sheikh, who is serving 29 life sentences for his role in the bombing of the Park Hotel in Netanyahu on Passover Eve, March 27, 2002, which killed 30 and left 140 wounded.

biffHow’s that for a motley collection of evildoers?  I like Israeli Likud politician Gilad Erdan’s take on it:  “This is the pressure that they are trying to apply. Believe me, terrorists dying from a hunger strike is the last thing that bothers me.”  His comments are, er,  food and drink for all decent people everywhere.